In sales, professionals try to control the sales process and the customers while still giving the customer various choices. Ultimately, sales representatives cannot force customers to do anything, but they can persuade customers to perform certain actions, either by providing an offer they can't refuse or playing on their emotions.
Sales funnels give sales management and representatives a way to control how they move customers from being initial leads to becoming customers who actually purchase the product or service. Sales funnels are called such because representatives start with a lot of customers at the beginning, but customers periodically drop off until there are only a few left, similar to how a funnel is wider at the top and narrower at the bottom. By looking at the number of customers who leave at each stage of the sales funnel, you can determine which aspects of the sales process need the most work.
There are aspects of sales that you cannot control, such as certain products going out of style. However, if you perform sales forecasts, which are predictions of how much you will sell over a given period, you can make adjustments to those things you can control. For example, if you forecast that sales will rise due to an increased demand for a product, you can hire more representatives, manufacturers and other workers to fulfill increased demand. If sales are expected to fall, you can close down plants to cut costs.
Pricing allows you to control the spending habits of your customers. By lowering prices, you can encourage customers to purchase your products when you want them to, such as when you're overstocked or trying to get customers used to trying a particular product. Businesses can also use promotions, such as offering freebies along with the purchase. For example, a car dealership can offer free oil changes for a year to customers who buy a certain car.
Businesses can drive customers to purchase products more than once through planned obsolescence. With this technique, manufacturers make products in a way that causes them to fail after a certain period of time. Then, customers have to continually purchase products to replace the ones that have broken down.
Artificial scarcity encourages customers to buy a product quickly, decreasing the chances that customers will purchase products somewhere else. For example, a coffee company might only offer a flavor for a limited period of time, encouraging customers to buy in bulk and hoard the coffee flavor. Scarcity only works with short-term sales and does not effectively help companies build customer relationships (reference 5).
Charles Pearson has written as a freelancer since 2009. He has a B.S. in literature from Purdue University Calumet and is currently working on his M.A. He has written the ebooks "Karate You Can Teach Your Kids," "Macadamia Growing Handout" and "The Raw Food Diet."